Off the Cushion – Practice & Service Day

Here’s a short video slideshow of last month’s Day of Practice & Service. Pasadena Bodhi Path members gather once a month on the second Sunday for a day of Chenrezig practice and preparing of 50 sack lunches for the Union Station Homeless Services of Pasadena.



Women’s Meditation/Yoga Retreat – June 22-28, 2014 – Sedgwick Reserve in the Santa Inez Valley

Khedrub Zangmo and Ana Maria Delgado

Khedrub Zangmo and Ana Maria Delgado

Women’s Meditation/Yoga Retreat – 12 noon, June 22 – 12 noon June 28, 2014
Led by Khedrub Zangmo and Ana Maria Delgado
Held at the Sedgwick Reserve in the Santa Inez Valley

Welcome to a week-long practice intensive! It is fortunate indeed to have the time to delve deeply into spiritual discovery. This is a rare opportunity to set aside our daily responsibilities, unplug the devices, and allow ourselves to stop. In the natural tranquility of the Sedgwick Reserve we will experience the true relief that comes from a quiet mind and an open heart. Learning to be gentle with ourselves and “to relax in the doing” is liberating and transformative. The key is finding the balance between, “not too tight, and not too loose”, between relaxed discipline and awake relaxation. In so doing we discover that peace and happiness are already present within our own mind, we only have to relax and let go of everything that is obscuring the innate qualities of our wisdom and compassion.
In this retreat we will base our study on Shamar Rinpoche’s newest book, “The Path to Awakening”, a commentary on Chekawa Yeshe Dorje’s distillation of Astisha’s teachings into seven points. We will also use two of Shamar Rinpoche’s other books, “Boundless Awakening” and “The King of Prayers” as well as “The Chenrezig Sadhana and Commentary” translated by Shamar Rinpoche and Pamela Gayle White. Please join two experienced teachers and a supportive spiritual community for meditation and yoga practice, study, and nature walks. We warmly invite you to come and experience the joy of slowing down and paying kind and gentle attention to your mind and body. Although the program is suited for beginner and intermediate level practitioners, applicants may anticipate a fairly intensive retreat, and are expected to attend all sessions on the schedule.

For more information and retreat application please see attached PDF.

Awakening Wisdom Heart-Womens Retreat

Up Close With A Translator: Julia Stenzel


Greetings Bodhi Seeds!

Here is a wonderful video and interview with a dear friend from the Bodhi Path mandala. Enjoy!


On the first day of Losar (Tibetan New Year) this year, we published the “Ākāśagarbha Sūtra” in the online reading room. Along with the publishing of this translation, we invited two of the translators to share their thoughts on the sūtra, the translation process and the impact that 84000 and our donors have on spreading the Buddha’s words.
Can you summarize the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra?

The Ākāśagarbha Sūtra was named after the Bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha, in Tibetan: Namkhai Nyingpo, which we could translate as essence of space or matrix of space. But we chose not to translate it but leave his name in Sanskrit. The setting is that of Buddha Śākyamuni residing in the Khalatika mountains, which some people think are the Barabar mountains in Bodhgaya. And Buddha Śākyamuni is surrounded by his retinue, and Ākāśagarbha arrives. He doesn’t arrive like any ordinary person. At first, there is a bright light, which comes from the jewel that he is wearing on top of his head. And this light transforms the whole of the world into a pureland, kind of a paradise. And so he arrives, and the bodhisattva Maitreya asking Buddha Śākyamuni, “So who is this bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha?”

The answer of Buddha Śākyamuni then forms the major part of the sūtra. The Buddha explained the qualities and the powers of Ākāśagarbha; and most particularly, his power to help practitioners purify their wrongdoings, their negative deeds. He also explained how practitioners should pray to Ākāśagarbha, which kind of offerings and mantras they should offer in order to purify. And there’s one interesting detail, which is that the purification actually takes place in a dream. So we have to invite Ākāśagarbha to come in our dream, and there we will confess our wrongdoings, and there Ākāśagarbha will purify our wrong doings.

What are the main themes of The Ākāśagarbha Sūtra?

One of the prominent themes in the sūtra is mahāyāna ethics. And indeed the sūtra is known from other texts like the Bodhicaryāvatāra, The Way of the Bodhisattva, from Śāntideva. In this text, Śāntideva recommends bodhisattva practitioners to study the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra in order to know about ethics of the bodhisattva training. Also, Sakya Pandita and Jamgon Kongtrul, later Tibetan masters, mention the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra as a reference text. The interesting thing here is that ethics is discussed from the point of view of failure. Buddha Śākyamuni, in the sūtra, explains 23 cases in which the practitioner fails. And these 23 wrongdoings are categorised into wrongdoings of kings, of ministers, of śrāvakas, and of beginner bodhisattvas.

In Tibetan, these wrong doings are called dongwa, which literally means downfall. And downfall here refers to the fact that we are falling from the way to awakening, and we are falling into the lower realms, which means we will be without happiness and without the possibility of making spiritual progress.

So what are these downfalls? Actually in the text we translate them as transgressions, where some of them are the crimes that we would expect, like killing and stealing. But the bodhisattva transgressions are deeds like teaching emptiness to disciples that are not ready for hearing the teaching about emptiness, or trying to convince somebody that the mahāyāna path is not the right path to practice, or trying to deter somebody who wants to take the pratimoksha vows. So the interesting thing in reading the sūtra is that a lot of these downfalls are not expressed as abstract principles, but rather the Buddha gives us a narrative. For example, monks in a certain situation teaching on the emptiness. So we are told, for each downfall, a little narrative.

Tell us a bit about your translation process.

We translated the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra at the International Buddhist Academy in Kathmandu. This academy is a Sakya school founded by the Sakya master Khenchen Rinpoche. These days it is directed by Khenpo Ngawang Jorden. And one special feature of the school is that it trains translators according to the moral of the Pandita Lotsawa, with whom many Sanskrit sūtras were at the time translated into Tibetan. We have, on one hand, Tibetan scholars who have all studied a decade or more in monastic colleges, and have become experts in Buddhist philosophy; and the “lotsawa,” the translators in this case, are westerners, practitioners but also with academic background; who then will work together in the team, this pandita-lotsawa team, in order to produce translations. This is a bit of a presumptuous word, because we are all beginners. But anyway, that was our ideal.

In the case of the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra, we were a team of four. Two Tibetan scholars: Ngawang Tenzin and Jampa Tenzin; and two Western translators, Christian Bernert and myself. And we worked in such a way that we divided the text in half, and one half was translated by Ngawang Tenzin and Christian, and the other one by Jampa Tenzin and myself. And then we switched work and corrected the work of the other team. That was a time-consuming process, but it was necessary. For difficult passages, we asked Khenpo Ngawang Jorden, and he was of enormous help to clarify the difficult passages.

We did not need a Sanskrit expert because there is no extant Sanskrit original for this sūtra. And the Chinese version is so very different that we could not really do a comparative study. So then after the translation, of course we had proofreaders and editors. Ani Kunga Chodron, Pamela White, Vivian Paganuzzi, who all contributed greatly to the end result. We submitted our translation to the 84000 and then we received comments and corrections from the editors of the 84000, also enormously helpful. And we worked at the text and then submitted our final result. This was all, as I said, very long process, but it gave us the confidence that at the end the result would be acceptable.

Why do you translate?

When I was 21, I entered a Buddhist hermitage in Provence (France). I studied Buddhadharma and learnt meditation with the late mahamudra master Lama Gendun Rinpoche. The condition to enter his three year retreat at the time was to learn Tibetan. So I studied Tibetan on my own. And during the retreat, sometimes we recited many hours of Tibetan texts. And of course I was curious, I wanted to know what I was reciting. Our teacher Lama Gendun at that time said that right now you will all practice in Tibetan, but in the future, people will understand the texts from within. You will translate texts, and then one day practice in your own languages.

When I came to the International Buddhist Academy where we were then in the process of translating sūtras, we had a visit from the head of the Sakya school, Sakya Trizin. And he gave us an advice which took the weight off our shoulders. Because he said: “Don’t worry whether your translation will be perfect, because of course it will be not. In the beginning, translators make mistakes; but based on their work, in the future, other translators can improve.” So with this kind of attitude, we started the translations of, for example, the Ākāśagarbha Sūtra, but also other sūtras for the 84000.

And personally I have to say it is a work which is very rewarding, because it obliges me to reflect deeply on this particular dharma texts, and thereby I learn a lot about the Buddhadharma. There’s the exchange with experienced translators, like Tom Tillemans, John Canti, Gavin Kilty. They gave us enormous help by commenting, advising, correcting our work. So it is a very rewarding experience. And therefore I am very grateful that the 84000 exists, and I would like to thank all the supporters and donors for this project. Thank you.


Ākāśagarbha Sūtra

The Path to Awakening now on Goodreads

The Path to Awakening: How Buddhism's Seven Points of Mind Training Can Lead You to a Life of Enlightenment and HappinessThe Path to Awakening: How Buddhism’s Seven Points of Mind Training Can Lead You to a Life of Enlightenment and Happiness by Shamar Rinpoché
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read the first edition of this book when it was first published in 2009. I’m very happy to see that it is now being reissued through a new publisher and a focus to making it widely available. This book is Rinpoche’s commentary on the classic Seven Points of Mind Training. There are many different books on Mind Training, lojong in Tibetan. I have read many and found Rinpoche’s book to be a valuable addition to the collection of commentaries of these wonderful teachings. Let’s face it, Rinpoche is not reinventing the wheel here. These are authentic teachings passed down for centuries from teacher to student.

Although they may sound a little foreign to someone who is new to Buddhism, they are nevertheless extremely beneficial and derive from the Buddha’s teachings, the Buddhadharma. As the title implies, it is a road map to awakening. And we are guided by these instructions and a genuine spiritual guide. For me, a lifelong endeavor and commitment. I highly recommended this text to anyone who is interested in Buddhism’s methods to free oneself from the habit of self-reference. And just to be honest, I give all Dharma books 5 stars. Impossible not to, if it’s authentic Buddhadharma. I also recommend that one finds an authentic teacher/spiritual friend to guide and assist on this road trip.

Safe travels

View all my reviews

Shamar Rinpoche at the Milken Institute – Video

The Path to Awakening: How Buddhism’s Seven Points of Mind Training Can Lead You to a Life of Enlightenment and Happiness


Direct Link

On the Road Again – Chenrezig Empowerment with Bonus Road Trip

Rinpoche in San Luis Obispo

Rinpoche in San Luis Obispo

Heading out to San Luis Obispo early last Saturday morning with 4 of us in the car, Cesar driving, we were a happy group bound for a Chenrezig Empowerment with Shamar Rinpoche. The evening before, Rinpoche had asked the Pasadena Bodhi Path members to come and meet with him and in the course of the conversation Rinpoche gave us some startling new advice! He said it is time think bigger and be more visible in the community. For the 10 years we have been holding weekly classes on Wednesday evenings in Pasadena having anywhere between 8-15 attendees each week in a rented class room. Occasionally we had have some weekend retreats and visiting teachers for weekend programs but have never advertised on a big scale as our group has always been quite small. He said that we should now put more effort into growing by holding our weekend teachings in a big hall. We should put up fliers and generally let it be more broadly known what we are doing. Let our light shine! On hearing Rinpoche’s advice, I for one was left feeling a bit unsettled as we have been doing things a certain way for so long that it has become quite a comfortable routine. The idea of changing this was at first unnerving! This was the hot topic of conversation during the morning part of the journey.

As we drove north, Lawrence suggested that we make a brief stop in Solvang at the Hans Christian Anderson Museum where they have a replica of a Guttenberg Press on display. The museum houses editions of Anderson’s writings and has many examples of his paper cut-out figures that I found particularly charming. Apparently he delighted the children of his friends by telling them stories illustrated with paper figures that he cut from paper as he wove his tales. After having yummy sandwiches in Los Olivos, we arrived comfortably at the Marriot Hotel in SLO half an hour early, in time to meet and greet all the dear friends from the other Bodhi Path Centers who were there in record numbers.



The SLO center had done exactly what Rinpoche was telling us to do the evening before! Here was as a living example, a 3D model of what he was trying his best to get across to us! They had rented a big hall, advertised broadly and even had an article written about the event and Rinpoche in the local newspaper, had books for sale, decorated stunningly with bountiful flowers and a large and radiant projected image of Chenrezig, and had built Rinpoche a beautiful high seat. Now it became obvious why he gave us those instructions! Lunar calendar astrological predictions for 2014, the year of the Male Wood Horse, are very apt. “Group actions of all types should have a special energy this year, and it is a good time to follow-through on ideas that arose during the more introspective Year of the Snake in 2013. It is also an auspicious time for breaking through obstacles on all levels… the ultimate outcome of most endeavors will be positive. It is also a good year for spiritual community, so starting or recommitting to a meditation practice and/or a sangha are both good uses of the energy available this year.” (Source:

They had a great turn out! The concerted group effort combined with their dedication was magnetizing. People came from far and wide and they just kept pouring in until the room was quite full. Rinpoche began with a Refuge Vow Ceremony that he had to restart twice so those just entering could be included. Then we all took the Bodhisattva Vow. Then he began the Chenrezig Empowerment. This he did step by step, explaining clearly what he was doing, what we should be imagining, and the benefits and results of each phase. After a short break, Rinpoche signed books and gave blessings both to us and our statues and other practice materials. We stayed until Rinpoche left the hall, then we headed home stopping for great dinner on the pier in Ventura where we had full view of the sunset glowing reddish pink over the distant Channel Islands.



Fred from the Sakya Buddhist Center in West LA and Levon

Fred from the Sakya Buddhist Center in West LA and Levon


Khedrub reporting from the dharmadhatu


Shamar Rinpoche visits Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena!

Shamar Rinpoche

Shamar Rinpoche

Greetings Dharma folk!

Well, it has surely been a busy week! We have had the pleasure of having Shamar Rinpoche visit us here in Pasadena, San Luis Obispo, and culminating with the event in Santa Monica this evening, so don’t miss it! I’ve been the un-official paparazzi for the events so I will be posting reports and photos in the coming days. For now, please enjoy these images from Rinpoche’s visit to Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena last Thursday.


Rinpoche at Vroman's Bookstore

Rinpoche at Vroman’s Bookstore

The event was well attended by many of Rinpoche’s students as well as folks meeting him for the first time. Rinpoche gave a wonderful talk discussing his new book, The Path to Awakening, and explained the origins of the root text his commentary is based on. The event was so well attended that all of Rinpoche’s books sold out! Vroman’s staff was very helpful and handed out book plates to be signed by Rinpoche and offered to take book orders with free shipping. Many of the visitors were from our local Pasadena Bodhi Path Center, as well as the Los Angeles Bodhi Path and Diamond Way Centers.

Rinpoche meets with friends

Rinpoche meets with friends



Pasadena Bodhi Path resident teacher Khedrub (Center)

Pasadena Bodhi Path resident teacher Khedrub (center)

Friends came from all realms!

Friends came from all realms!

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